Life never stands still, so change is inevitable. Usually, time-sharing is established when a couple first gets divorced, but sometimes a time-sharing modification is necessary.
When it comes to matters of parenting plans and child custody, making adjustments can be tricky, and it is essential to have any alterations documented properly. How do you accomplish this?
Review the existing custody order.
Before you can determine how to change your parenting plan, it makes sense to spend a little time reviewing the existing time-sharing court order. Read through it carefully. Think about what is working for your family, what is not and why. Identify alternative options.
Decide what changes you would like to see.
When seeking solutions, consider the possibilities and decide what changes you would like to pursue. Assemble a list of reasons why you would like to see these changes.
- Has either parent had a change in financial circumstances?
- Does one parent want or need to relocate?
- Is your child having an educational or emotional issue that deserves to be addressed?
- Is the other parent not abiding by the existing plan or acting in an abusive manner?
Remember that the guiding factor that courts use to determine whether a time-sharing modification or some other change to the parenting plan is warranted is whether it is in the best interests of the child.
Talk with the other parent.
While it is possible to modify a parenting plan over the objections of the other parent, it is easiest to do so if all interested parties agree to the change. If circumstances allow it, discuss your desire to modify the time-sharing plan with the other parent and try to reach a suitable agreement. The courts appreciate it when parents make a real effort to work together to handle the inescapable challenges of parenting, and they will generally look favorably on requests for parenting plan changes that both parties have agreed to. However, if your relationship is stormy or acrimonious, it may be necessary to skip this step and go straight to your lawyer for assistance in seeking any modifications.
Seek legal assistance.
If for any reason both parties cannot come to a reasonable agreement, you will need to get the courts involved. A child custody hearing will be held to present your request and explain why the changes are in the child’s best interest. Your family lawyer can provide guidance in how to best make your case. The other parent will have a chance to respond, and the court will decide whether to alter the time-sharing plan.
Even if both parents agree to change the parenting plan, you will want to speak with your lawyer and have a document that outlines the new plan drawn up and approved by the courts. This prevents confusion and limits the likelihood that the other parent might go to court later and claim that you are interfering with their parental rights by not respecting the parenting plan.
At Cheshire Family Law, we’ve been helping Florida families find the solutions they need since 1988. For assistance with time-sharing modifications and other child custody issues, contact us today at (561) 677-8090.